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April 6, 2020

Home Sales

Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales?

Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | MyKCM

Ten million Americans lost their jobs over the last two weeks. The next announced unemployment rate on May 8th is expected to be in the double digits. Because the health crisis brought the economy to a screeching halt, many are feeling a personal financial crisis. James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, explained that the government is trying to find ways to assist those who have lost their jobs and the companies which were forced to close (think: your neighborhood restaurant). In a recent interview he said:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole.”

That’s promising, but we’re still uncertain as to when the recently unemployed will be able to return to work.

Another concern: how badly will the U.S. economy be damaged if people can’t buy homes?

A new concern is whether the high number of unemployed Americans will cause the residential real estate market to crash, putting a greater strain on the economy and leading to even more job losses. The housing industry is a major piece of the overall economy in this country.

Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in a post titled Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, addressed the toll this crisis will have on our nation, explaining:

“Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well-being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy.”

How has the unemployment rate affected home sales in the past?

It’s logical to think there would be a direct correlation between the unemployment rate and home sales: as the unemployment rate went up, home sales would go down, and when the unemployment rate went down, home sales would go up.

However, research reviewing the last thirty years doesn’t show that direct relationship, as noted in the graph below. The blue and grey bars represent home sales, while the yellow line is the unemployment rate. Take a look at numbers 1 through 4:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | MyKCM

  1. The unemployment rate was rising between 1992-1993, yet home sales increased.
  2. The unemployment rate was rising between 2001-2003, and home sales increased.
  3. The unemployment rate was rising between 2007-2010, and home sales significantly decreased.
  4. The unemployment rate was falling continuously between 2015-2019, and home sales remained relatively flat.

The impact of the unemployment rate on home sales doesn’t seem to be as strong as we may have thought.

Isn’t this time different?

Yes. There is no doubt the country hasn’t seen job losses this quickly in almost one hundred years. How bad could it get? Goldman Sachs projects the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% percent by the fourth quarter of 2021. Not ideal for the housing industry, but manageable.

How does this compare to the other financial crises?

Some believe this is going to be reminiscent of The Great Depression. From the standpoint of unemployment rates alone (the only thing this article addresses), it does not compare. Here are the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the projected rates moving forward:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

We’ve given you the facts as we know them. The housing market will have challenges this year. However, with the help being given to those who have lost their jobs and the fact that we’re looking at a quick recovery for the economy after we address the health problem, the housing industry should be fine in the long term. Stay safe.

Posted in Market Updates
April 1, 2020

The Best Advice

The Best Advice Does Not Mean Perfect Advice

The Best Advice Does Not Mean Perfect Advice | MyKCM

The angst caused by the coronavirus has most people on edge regarding both their health and financial situations. It’s at times like these when we want exact information about anything we’re doing – even the correct protocol for grocery shopping. That information brings knowledge, and this gives us a sense of relief and comfort.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home today, the same need for information is very real. But, because it’s such a big step in our lives, that desire for clear information is even greater in the homebuying or selling process. Given the current level of overall anxiety, we want that advice to be truly perfect. The challenge is, no one can give you “perfect” advice. Experts can, however, give you the best advice possible.

Let’s say you need an attorney, so you seek out an expert in the type of law required for your case. When you go to her office, she won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end or how the judge or jury will rule. If she could, that would be perfect advice. What a good attorney can do, however, is discuss with you the most effective strategies you can take. She may recommend one or two approaches she believes will be best for your case.

She’ll then leave you to make the decision on which option you want to pursue. Once you decide, she can help you put a plan together based on the facts at hand. She’ll help you achieve the best possible resolution and make whatever modifications in the strategy are necessary to guarantee that outcome. That’s an example of the best advice possible.

The role of a real estate professional is just like the role of the lawyer. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen throughout the transaction – especially in this market.

An agent can, however, give you the best advice possible based on the information and situation at hand, guiding you through the process to help you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. An agent will get you the best offer available. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, contact a local real estate professional to make sure you get the best advice possible.

Posted in Real Estate News
March 21, 2020

Wave Of Foreclosures

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures?

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures? | MyKCM

With all of the havoc being caused by COVID-19, many are concerned we may see a new wave of foreclosures. Restaurants, airlines, hotels, and many other industries are furloughing workers or dramatically cutting their hours. Without a job, many homeowners are wondering how they’ll be able to afford their mortgage payments.

In spite of this, there are actually many reasons we won’t see a surge in the number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash over ten years ago. Here are just a few of those reasons:

The Government Learned its Lesson the Last Time

During the previous housing crash, the government was slow to recognize the challenges homeowners were having and waited too long to grant relief. Today, action is being taken swiftly. Just this week:

  • The Federal Housing Administration indicated it is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for “at least 60 days.”

Homeowners Learned their Lesson the Last Time

When the housing market was going strong in the early 2000s, homeowners gained a tremendous amount of equity in their homes. Many began to tap into that equity. Some started to use their homes as ATM machines to purchase luxury items like cars, jet-skis, and lavish vacations. When prices dipped, many found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage was greater than the value of their homes). Some just walked away, leaving the banks with no other option but to foreclose on their properties.

Today, the home equity situation in America is vastly different. From 2005-2007, homeowners cashed out $824 billion worth of home equity by refinancing. In the last three years, they cashed out only $232 billion, less than one-third of that amount. That has led to:

  • 37% of homes in America having no mortgage at all
  • Of the remaining 63%, more than 1 in 4 having over 50% equity

Even if prices dip (and most experts are not predicting that they will), most homeowners will still have vast amounts of value in their homes and will not walk away from that money.

There Will Be Help Available to Individuals and Small Businesses

The government is aware of the financial pain this virus has caused and will continue to cause. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:

“In a memorandum, Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.”

The plan also recommends $300 billion for small businesses.

Bottom Line

These are not going to be easy times. However, the lessons learned from the last crisis have Americans better prepared to weather the financial storm. For those who can’t, help is on the way.

Posted in Buying a Home
March 12, 2020

New Homes Coming

New Homes Coming to the Housing Market This Year

New Homes Coming to the Housing Market This Year | MyKCM

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will begin to come to market over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Construction Report, the number of building permits issued in January was 1,551,000. This is a 9.2% increase from December.

How will this impact buyers?

New inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explained how this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“More construction will mean more housing inventory for consumers in the later months of this year…Spring months could still be quite tough for buyers since it takes time to convert housing starts into actual housing completions.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Yun continues to say:

“As trade-up buyers move into these newly completed homes in the near future, their existing homes will be released onto the market.”

Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can potentially anticipate:

  1. great sale price on their house as buyers engage in potential bidding wars.
  2. quick sale as buyers have little inventory to choose from.
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers want to smoothly secure a contract.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, you’ll want to list sooner rather than later. This way, you’ll get ahead of this new competition coming to market and ensure the most attention toward your listing and the best price for your house.

Posted in Market Updates
March 12, 2020

Can You Still Afford A Home?

Yes, You Can Still Afford a Home

Yes, You Can Still Afford a Home | MyKCM

The residential real estate market has come roaring out of the gates in 2020. Compared to this time last year, the number of buyers looking for a home is up 20%, and the number of home sales is up almost 10%. The increase in purchasing activity has caused home price appreciation to begin reaccelerating. Many analysts have boosted their projections for price appreciation this year.

Whenever home prices begin to increase, there’s an immediate concern about how that will impact the ability Americans have to purchase a home. That thinking is understandable. We must, however, realize that price is not the only element to the affordability equation. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:

“When demand increases for a scarce (limited or low supply) good, prices will rise faster. The difference between houses and other goods is that we buy them with a mortgage. So, it’s not the actual price that matters, but the price relative to purchasing power.”

While home prices have risen recently, mortgage interest rates have fallen rather dramatically. At the beginning of last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 4.46%. Today, that number stands over a full percentage point lower.

How does a lower mortgage rate impact your monthly mortgage payment?

Michael Hyman, a research data specialist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explained in a recent report that, even though home values have increased over the last year, the monthly cost of owning a home has decreased:

“With lower mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the payment as a percentage of income fell to 15.5%…from 17.1% a year ago.”

When purchasing a home, the price is not as important as its cost. Today, the monthly expense (cost) of purchasing the same house you could have purchased last year would be less. Or, you could purchase a more expensive home for the same monthly expense.

Fleming, looking at all aspects of the affordability equation (prices, wages, and mortgage rates), calculated the actual numbers in a recent blog post:

“Low mortgage rates and income growth triggered a 13.5% increase in house-buying power compared with a year ago.”

Since wages have increased and mortgage rates have dropped to historically low levels, this is a great time to buy your first home or move up to the home of your dreams. As Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTreerecently advised:

“If you are in a point in your life where you’re considering buying a home today, it’s a better time to buy than 10 years ago. If you can get a mortgage, you’re getting much lower interest rates, and it enables you to afford more.”

Bottom Line

Whether you’ve considered becoming a homeowner for the first time or have decided to sell your home and buy one that better suits your current lifestyle, now is a great time to get together and discuss your options.

Posted in Buying a Home
March 3, 2020

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Home ownership This Year

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Home ownership This Year

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | MyKCM

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2020, have you thought about putting your tax refund toward a down payment? Homeownership may be one step closer than you think if you spend your dollars wisely this year.

Based on data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,962 when filing their taxes this year.

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state:How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | MyKCMAccording to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. Truth be told, a 20% down payment is not always required to buy a home, even though that’s a common misconception about home buying. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

How can my tax refund help?

If you’re a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you ever thought possible.

If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that’s covered by the average tax refund:How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to home ownership in one of these programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward a down payment on a home.

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you’ll be to make the best decision for you and your family. This tax season, your refund could be your key to home ownership.

Posted in Buying a Home
March 3, 2020

How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments

How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments

How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments | MyKCM

Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential homebuyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.

Freddie Mac explains:

If you're in the market to buy a home, today's average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971…

Mortgage rates change frequently. Over the last 45 years, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% (1981) to a low of 3.31% (2012). While it's not likely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its record low, the current average rate of 3.45% is pretty close — all to your advantage.”

To put this in perspective, the following chart from the same article shows how average mortgage rates by decade have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments | MyKCMClearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.

Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“Prospective home buyers are also adversely affected when interest rates rise. NAHB’s priced-out estimates show that, depending on the starting rate, a quarter-point increase in the rate of 3.75% on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can price over 1.3 million U.S. households out of the market for the median-priced new home.”

Bottom Line

You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 23, 2020

For Renters

Great News for Renters Who Want to Buy a Home

Renters Who Want to Buy a Home

Rents in the United States have been skyrocketing since 2012. This has caused many renters to face a tremendous burden when juggling their housing expenses and the desire to save for a down payment at the same time. The recent stabilization of rental prices provides a great opportunity for renters to save more of their current income to put toward the purchase of a home.

Just last week the Joint Center of Housing Studies of Harvard University released the America's Rental Housing 2020 Report. The results explain the financial challenges renters are experiencing today,

“Despite slowing demand and the continued strength of new construction, rental markets in the U.S. remain extremely tight. Vacancy rates are at decades-long lows, pushing up rents far faster than incomes. Both the number and share of cost-burdened renters are again on the rise, especially among middle-income households.”

According to the most recent index, which measures the estimated market-rate rent for all homes and apartments, the typical U.S. rent now stands at $1,600 per month. Here is a graph of how the index’s median rent values have climbed over the last eight years:Great News for Renters Who Want to Buy a Home | MyKCM

Is Good News Coming?

There seems, however, to be some good news on the horizon. Four of the major rent indices are all reporting that rents are finally beginning to stabilize in all rental categories:

1. The Zillow Rent Index, linked above, only rose 2.6% over the last year.

2. RENTCafé’s research team also analyzes rent data across the 260 largest cities in the United States. The data on average rents comes directly from competitively rented, large-scale, multi-family properties (50+ units in size). Their 2019 Year-End Rent Report shows only a 3% increase in rents from last year, the slowest annual rise over the past 17 months.

3. The CoreLogic Single Family Rent Index reports on single-family only rental listing data in the Multiple Listing Service. Their latest index shows how overall year-over-year rent price increases have slowed since February 2016, when they peaked at 4.2%. They have stabilized around 3% since early 2019.

4. The Apartment List National Rent Report uses median rent statistics for recent movers taken from the Census Bureau American Community Survey. The 2020 report reveals that the year-over-year growth rate of 1.6% matches the rate at this time last year; it is just ahead of the 1.5% rate from January 2016. They also explain how “the past five years also saw stretches of notably faster rent growth. Year-over-year rent growth stood at 2.6% in January 2018, and in January 2016 it was 3.3%, more than double the current rate.”

It seems tenants are getting a breather from the rapid rent increases that have plagued them for almost a decade.

Bottom Line

Rental expenses are beginning to moderate, and at the same time, average wages are increasing. That power combination may allow renters who dream of buying a home of their own an opportunity to save more money to put toward a down payment. That’s sensational news!

Posted in For Renters
Feb. 23, 2020

Why Are houses disappearing?

Where Have All the Houses Disappeared To?

If you’re following what’s happening in the current housing market, you’ve seen how the lack of newly constructed homes is a major reason there’s a shortage of housing inventory available to today’s buyers. Another reason is that the inventory of existing homes for sale is shrinking. According to the most recent Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 10.8% from the same time last year. That exceeds expectations and is great news.

The troubling news from the report is that the sold inventory is not being replaced. As NAR explained,

“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.”

The situation was also addressed in a recent Zillow article stating,

“The number of for-sale homes in the U.S. is at its lowest point in at least seven years, and the shortage appears poised to get worse before it gets better.”

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk further noted,

“Inventory always decreases sharply in December as people take their homes off the market for the holidays. However, based on the data I've collected, this was the lowest level for inventory in at least three decades (the previous low was 1.43 million in December 1993).”

Why is inventory falling so dramatically? I thought the housing market had softened.

A year ago, that was the case – but the market shifted again. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explains,

"A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it's set to reverse back to accelerating growth right as we head into home shopping season with demand outpacing supply."

What does this mean if you’re a homeowner thinking of selling?

Now is a great time to consider putting your home on the market. The competition (number of houses on the market) has not been this low in decades. It’s best not to wait for the inventory (both existing homes and new construction) to increase in the spring, as it always does.

Bottom Line

The supply of homes for sale is at a historic low. Buyer demand is surprisingly strong. Now would be a great time to sell.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 23, 2020

Benefits of Aging In a Community

The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community

The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community

There’s comfort in being around people who share common interests, goals, and challenges. That comfort in a community doesn’t wane with age – it actually deepens. Whether it’s proudly talking about grandchildren or lamenting the fact that our eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, it helps to be around people who not only understand what we’re saying but actually feel the same joys and concerns as well.

That’s why many boomers are deciding to move into an active adult community. In the latest 55places National Housing Survey, they were described by one out of three seniors as an “outgoing, social community of likeminded people.”

Bill Ness, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 55places.com, explains:

“Baby boomers are now reaching the age when moving to an active adult community is the ideal opportunity for them…Many boomers now want to downsize, experience a maintenance-free lifestyle, and pursue more social opportunities. It’s exciting that there are so many choices for baby boomers.”

There’s still a desire, however, among many seniors to “age-in-place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, aging-in-place means:

“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”

The challenge is, many seniors live in suburban or rural areas, and that often necessitates driving significant distances to see friends or attend other social engagements. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults addressed this exact concern:

“The growing concentration of older households in outlying communities presents major challenges for residents and service providers alike. Single-family homes make up most of the housing stock in low-density areas, and residents typically need to be able to drive to do errands, see doctors, and socialize.”

The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject:

“While most seniors say they want to age in place, a much smaller percentage of them actually manage to accomplish it, studies show. Transportation is often a problem; when you can no longer drive, you can’t get to medical appointments or to other outings.”

Driving may not be a challenge right now, but think about what it may be like to drive 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.

There are also health challenges brought on by a possible lack of socialization when living at home versus a community of seniors. Sarah J. Stevenson is an author who writes about seniors. In a recent blog post for A Place for Mom, she explains:

“Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for reasons such as retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.”

Thankfully, research from the same article suggests if you’re spending time with others in a community, thus reducing the impact of loneliness and isolation, there’s less of a risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and early death.

Though the familiarity of our current home may bring a feeling of warmth, comfort, and convenience, it’s important to understand that staying there may mean missing out on crucial socialization opportunities. Living with adult children, joining a retirement community, or moving to an assisted living facility can help us continue to be with people we enjoy every day.

Bottom Line

“Aging-in-place” definitely has its advantages, but it could mean getting “stuck-in-place” too. There are many health benefits derived from socialization with a community of people that shares common interests. It’s important to take the need for human interaction into consideration when making a decision about where to spend the later years in life.

Posted in Community News